Ending days of speculation and criticism about why the president has not met or spoken with top officials of the company responsible for the oil spill off the Gulf Coast, the White House Thursday invited BP’s chairman of the board and other senior managers to meet with Barack Obama in Washington next week.
The invitation to a meeting next Wednesday came in a letter from the federal incident commander Admiral Thad Allen to BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg.
“[T]ime is of the essence in resolving these issues,” Allen wrote in the letter, which was made public by the administration. “As part of our ongoing communication, I request that you and any appropriate officials from BP, meet with senior Administration officials on Wednesday, June 16, 2010, to discuss these timely issues. President Obama will participate in a portion of this meeting.”
The invitation for the meeting – which will be held at the White House, according to an administration official – comes after repeated questions from reporters this month about why, more than 50 days after the spill began, Obama hasn’t had a face-to-face encounter or phone conversation with the company’s top leaders, such as Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward.
Hayward is scheduled to testify next Thursday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee oversight and investigations subcommittee. It was not immediately clear whether Hayward, who has been featured in TV ads BP took out to defend its response to the spill, would attend next week’s meeting.
Bp had no comment on whether it had received the letter, or who planned to attend but if Hayward shows up to meet Obama, it could be a bit awkward. In an interview taped on Monday, Obama said he would have fired Hayward over remarks the CEO made saying that the environmental impact of the spill would be “modest” and that he wanted the spill resolved because he’d “like his life back.”
“He wouldn't be working for me after any of those statements,” Obama told NBC’s “Today Show.”